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How does same-day voter registration work in Idaho?

Emilie Ritter Saunders
Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Matters is answering your questions about voting in the 2022 midterm elections. This week, listeners asked us about same-day voter registration and how it works.

We talked with Boise State Public Radio Reporter James Dawson to help us answer your questions.

If you haven't already registered to vote, are you still able to?

Well, the good news is there is same-day voter registration here in Idaho. So yes, as long as you meet certain requirements, you are eligible to cast a vote and register to vote on the same day.

How does same day voter-registration work? 

First, you have to figure out where your precinct is, which involves going online or calling your county clerk's office and giving them your address. They will then tell you where your nearest polling location is. You can also look up your polling place online if you live in Ada County.

From there you should be able to register.

What do you need to bring with you?

Once you’ve figured out which voting district you belong to you’ll need to bring a form of ID. You can bring a state-issued ID card, whether that's a driver's license or a student ID. And then, just in case, you should also bring a few different forms of ID that prove your residency. This can be a utility bill, a lease agreement, a mortgage, etc. A bill that will not work is a cell phone bill.

Beyond registering, what else does same-day registration allow you to do?

Many people's polling places have changed due to redistricting, so if that's the case you can update your address. If you are unaffiliated and if you want to, you can also affiliate with a party.

Do all counties in Idaho let you register to vote on the same day?

It is a state law to register to vote on the same day as an election. This is not a law unique to Idaho, other states also have same-day voter registration.

If you registered at the last election, do you have to register again? 

If you registered to vote in the 2020 election you should not need to register again. The only exception would be if you moved during that time period.

Then you would have to go to your new polling place and update everything, but you don't need to register again. However, if you haven't voted at all within the past four years then you will need to re-register to vote.

Does same-day registration help turnout at the polls?

From what we’ve seen in the past, Yes. Many people lead busy lives, especially if they work multiple jobs or have a family.

Voting can be an easy thing to space out on, so the ease of access certainly helps increase turnout.

Once I’ve registered to vote can I bring my phone into the booth with me to look things up while filling out the ballot?

Idaho does allow you to bring your phone into the booth and look things up. They also allow you to take a selfie with your ballot if you want to, though you are not able to do that in every state.

You’ll want to keep in mind though that you are not allowed to take pictures of other people voting because it’s illegal.

As a reminder: We’ve talked about this before, but why have polling places changed and how do people find their new polling place?

Polling places have changed because of redistricting. Every ten years with the new census, we recombine all the maps and districts.

But the reason why this is important for precincts is because those have changed, too. Dozens of polling places, if not more, have changed in Ada County alone. So it's not going to be an uncommon experience for people who are realizing that the place that they voted for the past ten years is no longer where they need to vote.

Go on to voteidaho.gov and you'll be able to find your polling place there, or you can also call your county elections office and they'll be able to point you in the right direction.

This project is part of the work of America Amplified, an initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to support community engagement journalism in public media.

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Hi, my name is Hannah and I’m the assistant producer for the Idaho Matters show here at BSPR. If you have a suggestion for an Idaho Matters segment, please email idahomatters@boisestate.edu.